Harbour Light Theatre

Also known as: Harbour Light Cinema

Location: 24 London Street, Lyttelton

Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, currently a bare site with a memorial

Active as a live music venue: 1916 – 2010

Bar Manager: –



Capacity: 300 (circa 2010)

Fantastic old Theatre in the heart of Lyttelton’s London Street that stood for 83 years prior to the Earthquakes of 2011.

The Harbour Light Theatre was thought to have been designed by J.S. and M. J. Guthrie and purpose-built as a picture house and theatre for the Lyttelton Picture Company. It could seat 550 people in both stalls and circle. The front of the building was two storeys high, with a mezzanine floor, and two decorative brick towers topped with spherical domes on either side. The entry was framed by large Tuscan columns, with quoin stones on the corners of the building. The material of the building was mostly brick with a stucco finish on the facade painted white in the “California style”. The entrance featured an art nouveau style etching of a pattern above the verandah roof.

At first the theatre management had concentrated on screening of films three times during the week. Then in 1920 they decided to extend the back of the theatre building and erect a stage with up-to-date fittings and lighting effects. The first performance on the new stage in December 1920 was delivered by the first “big-town” company to appear in Lyttelton, and apparently lived up to all expectations.

–  Jae Renaut’s Lyttelton

Harbour Light Cinema circa 1980 from Jae Renaut’s Lyttelton

Over the course of it’s long history the building had been used as a theater, a cinema, a social gathering hot-spot, a nightclub and as a particularly special concert and performance venue.

Having the stage meant that the Harbour Light could be used for fund-raising and benefit concerts, public talks and other social occasions, not just to screen films. Attractions presented on the new stage included illusionists and hypnotists, even vaudeville from the “Jolly John Larkin Happy Folks Company”.

– Jae Renaut’s Lyttelton

From 1992 onward groups would utilize the large stage and ample setting for music performances, prior to the 2010/2011 Earthquakes which ravaged Lyttelton, I saw enchanting performances from Pine and The Renderers in this wonderful old theater – it was a sad day when it was finally pulled down.


  • 1917: 24 London street is opened as a movie cinema and theater
  • 1983: Peter Harris purchases the dilapidated venue, building a squash court in the rear of the venue.
  • 1988: New owner Tom Jones converts the building into a nightclub and performance theater, becoming a licensed entertainment venue by 1992.
  • 2010: Damaged and eventually demolished in the Canterbury Earthquakes

Contact Details


b artists

Backyard Burial


Lower Hutt death-metal / grind-core with a handful of self-produced recordings and some international support slots under their belt since forming in the late 1990’s (after a myriad of lineup changes).

The group released the track ‘Bone Collector’ on the absolutely bonkers ‘Stop the Bypass’ compilation of random Wellington acts – a fundraiser aiming trying to prevent a highway bypass that was constructed through Te Aro Valley in Wellington in 2005.

The group would continue through the 00’s, producing a fairly large catalog of self-released albums and EP’s (including a split release well-known Auckland act Malevolence) – despite having trouble holding on to bass players.

Tragically, 35-yr old vocalist Matthew Hall died in January 2011 as a result of a ferocious attack while in bed at his Johnsonville flat – the victim of multiple stab wounds.

Things took a dramatic turn during the investigation of Hall’s murder – Petone man Timothy Parlane (a former bassist with another Metal Group – Wellington Thrash group Bulletbelt) supposedly confessed to Halls murder, but was subsequently hit and killed by a train mere hours after talking to investigators of the Hall case.


February 2011: Matthew Hall is found stabbed to death in his bed in Johnsonville, Wellington.

March 2011: Lower Hutt man Timothy Parlane is interviewed by police in connection with Mr Hall’s death and released soon after. Hours later he is hit by a train. An IPCA investigation is started.

April 2011: The Dominion Post reveals Mr Parlane confessed to a woman he was dating that he had murdered Mr Hall.

August 2012: The IPCA investigation into police conduct before Mr Parlane’s death is completed, but it decides not to publish its findings.

December 2012: The police file is passed on to the Wellington coroner.

The Dominion Post


  • Mike Flannigan (Drums, 1998 – 2011)
  • Dave (Guitar, 1998)
  • Ryan O’Leary (Bass/Guitar, 1998 – 2011)
  • Matthew Hall (Vocals, 1998 – 2005)
  • Nathan Holmes (Bass/Guitar, 1999 – 2002)
  • Aiden McDonald (Bass, 1999 – 2002)
  • Greg Bassett (Bass, 2002)
  • Mark Davey (Guitar, 2002 – 2005)
  • Jason Hislop (Bass, 2002 – 2007)
  • Alex Beere (Guitar, 2005 – 2008)
  • George Prowse (Bass, 2008 – 2011)


  • Deviance in Society (1999, self-released)
  • The $2 PE EP (2001, self-released)
  • Repeat Offender (2002, self-released)
  • Hedonistic cravings (2005, self-released)
  • A Promising Young Student EP (2007, self-released)
  • Grinding Aotearoa split EP (w/ Malevolence 2008, self-released)
  • Symptoms of Psychopathology (2009, self-released)